Sunday, July 24, 2005

I had one of those chapters that I just got stuck on. I knew what I wanted to write. And it wasn't even writer's block. It just wasn't flowing right. I decided to not worry about it and to just lay the plot down for right now, and to go back and fix the flow after I finish the first draft. What I'm finding anyway is that as I write new chapters, something comes up where I have to insert a line or two or a paragraph in a previous chapter. So, I know I'm going to have to go back and shape everything afterwards. Worrying about it now is just preventing me from laying it down on paper, and I think that's the most important thing right now. Because I'm finding it easier to see what I need to do and how to fix it if I have something down on paper (computer screen). Then I can see what's wrong, and try different things to fix it. This is exciting!

The good thing is that I'm disciplining myself. Yes, it's still going good. And somehow, I managed to meet my writing goal, and go to a concert on Friday night and a baseball game on Saturday. Friday I went to a jazz concert to see Dave Koz and friends. And it wasn't until I got there that I realized one of the friends was Jeffrey Osborne. I LOVE Jeffrey Osborne. I saw him in Vegas a few years back and fell in love with his live performance. He's a grandfather and is in great shape. He wore a suit, but Dave Koz "made him" take off his suit jacket and shirt, to reveal his tight italian muscle shirt. How convenient. The ladies were going wild. Okay...I was going wild. LOL But it was a great show. I love jazz.

Then, my friend took me to the baseball game on Saturday. Cardinals vs. Cubs. That has to be one of the greatest rivalries in baseball. I had a great time, even though we lost. Something about beer and whooping it up with Cubs fans and fellow Cardinals fans that makes everything okay. Well, except if you're out in the bleachers and you're around the sour grapes of the losing team. Sometimes, it's not too pretty. But it was too hot that day and luckily, my friend had pull and we were able to watch the game from the Batter's Cage, which is an air conditioned viewing room with all the free food and beverages you can handle.

It was a day game, so I came home, took a nap, then wrote for the rest of the day. :-)


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Reading at all times has come to be essential for me. It's funny because as a child, I read avidly. When I started college, my reading became textbooks and technical reading only. Then after college while working as an engineer, the extracurricular reading was all techinical. Books by Steven Covey, books on continuous improvement, kaizen, team building, flow processes, work personalities, change agents...yep, I know you're salivating over these book topics right about now, aren't you? LOL While I wasn't reading fiction, I was still reading avidly. I spent much of my spare time reading, just books to improve my career. Then, when I decided to write my first book in 2003, I decided to get back to reading too. It was actually a struggle at first because I wasn't familiar with ANY current day writers and genres because I hadn't read non-technical books as an adult. So, I slowly just started picking up books to read, started reading book magazines, and book newsletters. Now I'm at the point where I HAVE to read non-technical everyday.

I'm also letting my tastes run their course and checking out what pulls me. Being a fiction writer, I find it odd that I enjoy reading more non-fiction books that fiction. A lot of the books I've just finished reading have been books from the civil rights era: Malcolm X, Assata, A Taste of Power. I also very much enjoy old school African American fiction and James Baldwin has become a favorite. I also like Ralph Ellision and Richard Wright. I also read spiritual books daily. I've read books like The Power of Intention, Spiritual Intelligence, The Celestine Prophecy, Personal Power through Awareness. I'm currently reading The Four Agreements.

I do read fiction though (although to a lesser extent) and I like reading the genre that I write in. Right now, I'm reading Always the Bridesmaid by Leslie Lyles. I enjoy books by Jennifer Weiner. I love her wittiness. Next, I'm planning to read The Wife of Reilly by Jennifer Coburn and I also have Candace Busnell's upcoming September release, Lipstick Jungle. Dying to rip into that one.

Lastly, I read for study. It seems I'm always reading a book on writing instruction. I recently finished Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. I started Stephen King on Writing and I have Writing Down to the Bones that I want to read as well. Periodically, I'll read books on various parts of the writing, such as characters, plot, structure, and overall novel writing books. And I read anthologies on the study of writing to study various parts and themes. Right now, I'm reading The Norton Introduction to Literature and The Norton's Anthology of Short Fiction. I love this Short Fiction Anthology because it is packed with writers that I've heard about and want to read. This anthology is giving me a chance to get a little piece of them until I can get around to reading more of their works. It's like a little intro. I LOVE that book!

And um, as you can probably guess, I'm finding that if I don't discipline myself, yes, the reading can interfere with writing and meeting my deadlines. So, with all that I want to read, I find that I have to set reading times. So I start my day with a spiritual reading. Since I have a deadline now, I go right into writing my book after that. But before, I was doing study reading before writing (and I still may do it now if the writing is starting off slow). After meeting my daily writing goal, I may do some non-fiction reading. I take my fiction with me to the gym and everywhere else and read during downtime and I read fiction before going to bed. Still, there doesn't seem to be enough time in the day...


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I'm 150 words shy of my daily goal of 2,000 quality words. I say quality words because it's quite easy to throw 2,000 words on a page (I've been blessed not to run into a case of writer's block, but I know I'm in the beginning of my writing career). I had to stop to mail packages and I'm about to go to the gym. As I writer, going to the gym a minimum of 3 days a week is a MUST DO on my list. Otherwise, I'd get no exercise with writing all day and my the end of a book I'd be big as a house! LOL I still haven't managed to lose these last 10 - 15 pounds, but that's another story. Going to the gym gives me a chance to get out out my apartment and meet characters, (did I say that?) keeps the health in check, the heart pumping, and the stress level low. And afterwards, I'm going to a St. Louis Writer's Studio meeting. Then I'll come back to finish up my last few words for the day.

I think I need to sit down and watch more TV. I attended the Joe Torry Give Back the Love event this weekend and had a good time. He has an event here in his hometown every year and brings celebrities in to mentor and tutor kids, and raise money for the foundation. Last year, there were many people that I recognized. This year, unfotunately, the only person that I can tell you about off the top of my head is Dawn Lewis who played on A Different World. She sang the national anthem before the celebrity basketball game and she has an outstanding voice. I heard there were stars from movies and TV...Star Trek I remember. But I didn't recognize the names or faces of any of them. But I know it was just me because it seemed that everyone did and they were all screaming and going wild. It's funny because I have to have some background noise while writing and the TV is ALWAYS on. But I just realized that I'm never really watching it.

Anyway, the weekend was a lot of fun, and yes, I did get my daily quota in. I'm on a roll with the second book and the discipline is going great. I'm getting better and better at it each day.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Yesterday was a groundwork day. I re-evaluated all my major characters and really fleshed them out. Now they feel like real people that I know. And for all of my friends and family members who are reading this, let me say this now, NO, THERE IS NO CHARACTER BASED ON YOU!!!! LOL I also tweaked my setting a little bit more. Over the next couple of days, I'm planning a field trip (didn't you just love those in grade school) to where I get out and spend a little time in the area that's my setting. I need to get the feel of it for the characters and find places that they're going to frequent and where they're going to eat and live. Even though it's right here in town, I'm going to take pictures as well. Probably sounds silly but I'm getting giddy just thinking about it. And this time, I don't have to get a permissions slip signed for me to go. :-)

While I'm writing my second book, there's actually also another project that I'm working on that I'm extremely excited about. Even when I was in Ohio, I knew that I wanted to start a non-profit that would work with kids in reading and writing. Well, I had started working on it, but it was hard to do by myself. I had a few part-time people involved, but mostly, the work was all on me. And with everything else going on, I hardly made any progress. But then, I saw a information about a group that was looking for additional members to establish a chapter of a national non-profit called 826. In a nutshell, 826 helps kids in the age range of 6 - 18 to improve their writing skills. I'm very excited about being a board member of this group. One of the members sent an email stating that she has sent off our incorporation papers and we're listed as the St. Louis Writer's Studio. This project excites me to no end, especially being involved at the very beginning. Yeah, the schedule is a little tight right now and, especially now through October or November, my physical presences may or may not be scarce because of a possible book tour. But other than that, this project is at the top of the list, along with writing books! :-) I know we're planning on being up and running in 2006. I'm so anxious to start working with kids and writing. It's going to be so fulfilling. :-)


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Okay, the heat is being turned up. It's two months before re-release time and time to start stepping up promotions. I recently found out what my publisher is doing for me as far as marketing, and I can honestly say, it's not surprising. It had been drilled into me a long time ago that even if I was picked up by a publisher, I should expect to do my own promotions. Which is the good thing about having self-published before. I have a little experience with this and I know what worked for me and what not to waste my time on. So, I have my outline together of what promotions I'll do and when. I'm going to try to reach audiences that I wasn't able reach when I was self-published.

And I'm already starting to feel the pressure. Because while promoting the first book, I'm trying to write the second. So my mind is going back and forth between the both of them. Even if I don't start the heavy promotions until a month before the re-release, I have to plan all of that out and get some things into motion before then. So now I'm at a point where I have to set a schedule for promotion work to because if one is not careful, a large amount of time can go into that.

So if I still promote my own book, what's the good thing about being with a publisher? Well, definitely the ability to do all of this full time, even though I still don't have enough hours in the day. But if I was still self-published, I'd have even less hours. Also it's great to think that when the book is out, I won't have to pack and lug my own books to my signings and everywhere I go. Ah, and I won't have to chase down bookstore owners and distributors to get paid so that I can continue. That alone is worth being with a publisher.

But even though marketing and promotion through the publisher is starting off small, I do know (and my agent confirmed) that as we build up our audience and sales, then the marketing and promotion should build as well. I know this is true, but sometimes it's hard to get beyond the fact that national exposure is what's needed in order to accomplish that and you know it's tough for you as an author to get national exposure on your own. So you hope that being with a publisher, they'll give you that national exposure. Only the truth may be, that you have to prove yourself to be worthy of national exposure dollars. And well, how is one able to do that without sales that you don't have, because it's your first book. :-) So, it's a cycle and you see and you understand, but you just want things to be different.

Of course, all this puts my mind into high drive on how to get as much exposure as I can and to try to get the word of mouth going. Gotta start somewhere. And I'm going to have to again count on the support of new readers who are unfamiliar with me or my work, and to take a chance on me. Now, I just gotta work on reaching them. :-)


Monday, July 11, 2005

Whew! Last week was one of those busy weeks. Drove to Kentucky to see my orthodontist but still came back with braces. The good news is that we're almost there and we scheduled the "retainer" appointment. So when my book comes out, I hope to be cheezing profusely at a bookstore near you! :-) But that was a whole day of driving and completely wore me (and my back) out.

I went to a friend's baby shower yesterday. It felt so good to be able to do that. For the past 10 years, I have missed out on so much of my friends lives, first due to work travel, then to writing, publishing, promotiing and selling my book. I've missed bridal showers, weddings, baby showers, divorces, chasing down child support know, the cycle of life (just kidding). This is my friend's second child and the first time I've seen her pregnant. And this is actually the second baby shower I've been to since being back in St. Louis. A college buddy and sorority sister invited me to the shower for her third child. Showers are fun and cutesy. This time, the ladies made ME feel like a little star. I was a little down about not getting as much writing in as I wanted for the last couple of days. But I walk into the shower and just about every woman there had read my book and loved it. My friend, the pregnant lady, is a reader and a teacher and sold tons of my books to her family and co-workers. They actually were upset because they didn't know I was coming, otherwise they would have brought their books for me to autograph. I would have felt guilty because it felt like a book club meeting, except for the fact that the guest of honor was the one distributing my new postcards and telling everyone about my book and running down my bio. It was funny and I left there feeling better. The good thing about it is that I slept well and woke up to two new ideas to add to my novel.

And at least this time, I wasn't asked when I was going to have children (getting married seems to be optional these days and not a necessary duty if you want to give birth). Even at my age, I still just don't have that strong desire to push eight pounds of anything out of my vagina. And then the thanks I could possibly get for that might be backtalk, spontaneous behavior that either has me apologizing to other parents, the community, or possibly even the nation, or teenaged activity that brings back memories and makes me laugh on the inside while I'm scolding and reprimanding my child on the outside... Nah! LOL Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike kids. As a matter of fact, I think when the time is right, I hope to be able to adopt a child one day. One that is potty trained and can walk and is at least on the verge of verbal communication. See, now if they came out that way, I wouldn't mind having one. Then again, that would probably make them about three feet tall at birth, right? Never mind.


Monday, July 04, 2005

Great news! I finished the first draft of my short story for the anthology! Yea! I'm so proud of myself for buckling down yesterday and getting it done, despite all the distractions around me. I had expected to finish it up today or tomorrow, but hey, I got in the groove and knocked it out last night. Now, I'm going to spend the next couple of days to go over it, tighten it up a bit, and then I'm sending that baby in! Finishing a writing project give a great feeling. Now, 2 more novels and 2 more short stories to go before the end of the year. I'll go back to finishing up my second novel this week. The deadline is almost upon me and I'm kinda wondering if I'm going to make it. But if I buckle down, I actually just might.

Well, today, after I go over the story, I'm planning on going to Mom's house, maybe. Today is also the biggest fair day of the weekend and I'm a little bit worried about having a parking space when I get back. Plus I just heard on the news that they're closing off streets at a certain time and not opening them back until after midnight. I might just leave my car here and catch the train. That actually might be fun. Just gotta figure out the closest station to my Mom's house, how much it costs and stuff like that. Um, no, I've never caught the train before. Not by myself. I think I did when we had our family reunion here a few years back and I just basically followed the family. Ah, the sacrifices of city living!


Sunday, July 03, 2005

Okay, downtown living can be a problem in the summer time, I see, when it comes to writing. Too much going on and too many distractions. I'm walking distance from the riverfront, the Cardinals baseball stadium (and I LOVE baseball) and the Rams football stadium (oh, and I LOVE football). And this weekend is the weekend of Fair St. Louis. Along the riverfront, theirs food vendors, misc. vendors, live bands and concerts, airplane shows, and just people everywhere. It's a festh-ival! LOL The last thing I needed was more procrastination tools. And it is extremely tough when you can hear everything from your apartment. Yesterday, all I had to do was stand at my window to watch the annual parade. I had never been to it before and this year, I didn't have to leave my apartment or change out of my pajamas to see it. Sure hope nobody had binoculars.

As I type this post, I'm listening to the airplane show which goes on every few hours throughout the holiday weekend. Yesterday, I gave it. BUT, and a very important but, I took my laptop with me. So I could write. I went to the riverfront, walked around a bit, then took a seat on the lawn (brought a blanket) and waited for the Blackeyed Peas to perform. I know what you're thinking (because I was too). There's no way to get writing done in that type of environment. There was thousands of people and stuff going on everywhere. But, believe it or not, I did get a lot of writing accomplished (even if I'm not happy with what I wrote). I wrote, then sat back and enjoyed the free concert and the fireworks show afterwards. I'm the type of writing that can't write in silence. I need something blaring in the background and it's usually either TV or a radio talk show. Somehow, music and silence drives me crazy and I can't concentrate. So, that type of environment on the riverfront was perfect. I get around noise, then tune it out. Sounds senseless, I know. But it works for me. I know people thought I was crazy. I didn't see anybody else with a laptop out there trying to work. Hey, but you got to roll with what works for you. ;-)

Now, today was a little different. I decided to go to my first game of the year at Busch Stadium. I LOVE baseball, as I stated before. I had planned to write at least my daily quota there, but somehow, that doesn't work for me. Because I want to watch the game. I guess the distractions I need with writing has to be something that's not at the top of my list of things I enjoy. Meanwhile, I'm the only nut at the stadium with a laptop hanging from my shoulder. So, I came back home to do a little more writing, and I'm going to sacrifice the rest of the day and stay in and get it done. Hey! You find out what works for you and what doesn't.

I have a goal of 2 novels and 2 or 3 short stories by year's end. It's going to be tough to do from now through Labor Day with excitement right at my doorstep. But I'm going to have to continue to buckle down, sacrifice, and get it done.